The World In A Word

If I speak of el pueblo de Frigiliana, I may be referring to the village of Frigiliana; or I may be speaking of the people of Frigiliana. The Spanish word pueblo has both meanings, and other, wider meanings too.
At first that seemed unhelpful to me. An ambiguity that could have been avoided by having a separate word for each - township and population, for instance. But with time and experience comes understanding. To the rural Spaniard especially, the two concepts are inseparable. His or her pueblo is at one and the same time his/her geographical and human source. Mi pueblo is the place I belong to and it is also the people I belong to.
In Spain people still tend by preference, to remain in the place where they were born and grew up; where they married and had their children; where, perhaps, today their spouse rests in the cemetery. If they can find work and a life's partner, that it how it has always been and that is how it still is today.
Of course, necessity has always driven young people to leave their pueblo in search of opportunity, and that is increasingly true today.In many, non-coastal provinces the villages are literally dying as the young head for the city and the old for the campo santo. On the Costas, it is easier for people to stay in the pueblo and travel just a few kilometres to thier work in tourism, hospitality and (to a lesser degree just now) in construction. And so Frigiliana is a vigorous and thriving community. And on all the major fiestas, the motorways of Spain are crammed with people heading, no matter how briefly, to spend precious time in and among their pueblo.
Some years ago during my Spanish studies, I reached for my dictionary to look up the Spanish word for 'commuter'; it wasn't there. Very simply, if your place of work is more than a very few kilometres from your home, you move to live near your work. And in the city your barrio fulfils many of the functions of the pueblo.
That led me on to another observation. Many people leave the village for work. Very few come into the village to their job. Professionals - teachers, bank managers, doctors, lawyers and the like; or expats offering their skills locally to fund a life in the sun.
It's another contrast with the country I left; it's another thing that makes Spain, Spain.


The Single Life

Three weeks ago I drove my wife to the airport and she boarded a plane back to England to play the role of nanny to our grandchildren, their actual nanny having resigned with effect from the end of June. In another week and a half I shall join her over there for a holiday which we had already planned. In the meantime I am living as a bachelor un soltero forzoso, as my Spanish neighbours would put it.
This temporary status appears to conjure up a degree of envy among my expat contacts, who interpret it as a few weeks 'off the hook'. Well, I have to agree that there are certain benefits; I have sole and exclusive use of a bed measuring 160cm x 200cm, no bad thing these hot and sticky nights of summer! I could come and go more or less as I please, were it not too hot right now to come and go anywhere between noon and 9pm. I have been able to be incredibly messy, leaving my papers, pencils, paints, brushes etc, scattered all over the dining table, and so have been able to complete three paintings in as many weeks.
Mainly, though, I have to disillusion my friends. The true benefits of the bachelor life are 1) I now know exactly how the washing machine works, 2) there are progressively fewer creases in my newly-ironed shirts (though not yet a complete absence) and 3) the trip to the recycling bins is less arduous because I only have one person's garbage to take. It's not much, but I'm making the most of it!


Magical Moments

I was sitting out on the balcony overlooking the street the other day,when I became aware of a little boy approaching out for a walk with his daddy. As they passed below the balcony, he suddenly stopped dead in his tracks and pointed at the door of the house opposite.
"Look," he shouted, " a FOUR."
"Yes' replied Daddy, "Well done. that is a four."
"I'm four in august!" he exclaimed, and went happily on his way.


You Get Better Pictures On Radio.

It's 10.25 on Saturday evening and Spain have just beaten Paraguay 3 - 0. I didn't watch the match; I'm really not that interested in football. So I sat out on the balcony, enjoying a lovely summer evening and a glass of wine.

For the first hour it was pretty much a standard village evening, quiet and peaceful apart from the soft burble of voices - neighbours chatting, children playing, people out for a stroll and a few words with people you meet. In other words, nothing to shout about (literally) in the first half.

This is the time of year of open doors and windows, so as the game finally picked up in the second half, suddenly the village BELLOWED; twice, in quick succession and each time, a rocket shot skyward and exploded with an ear-splitting bang. Then fifteen or twenty minutes later, another bellow and more rockets. Goal number three; pretty much home and dry. Then, around twenty past ten, a more subdued wave of cheering, horn blowing, and rocket firing. Game over; Spain through; 3-0.
Am I right?